Time has stopped, he’s in the zone and on autopilot.
Body is square to the jump, knees bent as he pops up and off at 25 mph. Flying high into the air, body twisting, contorting in different directions at once—gazing skyward, blind to the ground and seemingly out of control.
Air squeezes puffs of snow spray out as the board and rider land as one, straight and true. The jump is nailed.
Mitch Keet says he still revels in the feeling of when he has nailed a landing, or “stomped it,” even thousands of successful jumps later. “It feels so good. You just know that your hard work has paid off,” he says.
Growing up on the family poultry and grain farm amid the Canadian prairies, snow-covered mountains and big bodies of water are not exactly something in Mitch’s backyard. The nearest ski hill is more than 100 miles away, and the closest lake about the same distance. Old-fashioned rural ingenuity brought the altitude and wet stuff to the farm near Grandora, Saskatchewan.
During the winter, one of the family’s Massey Ferguson® tractors scoops and pushes snow together to build a small jump beside the poultry barns. An elongated pond of water was dug behind those same barns for summer wakeboarding. With his father, Derick, at the throttle, a homespun, carnival ride-sized winch pulls Mitch through his practice maneuvers for both wakeboarding and snowboarding. He can do more jumps in an hour than he can in a whole day on the natural slopes or water.
Mitch’s wakeboard achievements include being named Saskatchewan Rookie of the Year in 2011 and the Most Improved in 2012. He won gold at the provincials in 2013. Mitch has also achieved membership on Canada’s National Development Team.
Mitch gives much of the credit for his work ethic and the confidence to pull off his amazing areal stunts because he’s been so grounded through his experiences on the farm. The Keet family’s 600-acre farm, Double D Poultry, was started by Mitch’s grandfather David. Derick took over much of the day-to-day work of running the family farm the year Mitch was born.
Every eight weeks they ship 100,000 broiler chickens for processing to the nearby city of Saskatoon. Derick and David handle most of the work using their fleet of Massey Ferguson tractors. Mitch, however, can be counted on to handle a daily list of chores. “I go through the barns and pick up chickens, and when the birds go out, I’ll clean barns and spread straw and dump feed and spread manure, and harvest and combine for long days in the fall,” says Mitch.
While Mitch has his sights set on making the National Pro Team and competing at the world championships, he wants to do it his way. “The farm is the best; it’s open, it’s nice here all year round. And,” he continues, as if divulging the secret ingredient to his success, “the farm, it taught me skills and working, and that kind of stuff. I’ve got a good family, so I don’t want to go anywhere,” he says.
Mitch said being raised on the farm with chores and parents who take the time to teach him has made him both tougher and definitely more confident. “I’ll always remember that my dad taught me how to drive a tractor. He taught me how to drive the combine. My father’s confidence in me makes me very much more confident.”
And that attribute, says Mitch, is a big reason for his success, in boarding as it is in life.
A legacy of sustainability is evident from the talk around the table in their farm shop on a recent warm afternoon. Dave Ring, his son Brent, 38, and grandson Dylan, 8, laugh about a story in which the boy informed his grade-school teacher that he may have to come home soon to farm full time.
The reason? It seems his dad had accumulated some gray hair around his temples. Dylan took that as a sign that Brent would be retiring soon and his time to take over was at hand.
“Dylan is 8 going on 21,” laughs Dave, obviously proud of his grandson. Dave also feels confident the operation will be healthy when Dylan is indeed ready to take over.
The Rings farm more than 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, milk 100-plus dairy cows and raise thousands of tom turkeys annually on a contract basis. They have always been proponents of good conservation. They seed cover crops in the fall, do minimal subsurface tillage, incorporate dairy manure and turkey litter in the soil, and buffer waterways.
“As for conservation, you have no choice in this part of the world,” says Dave. “We have rolling ground and you have to prepare the land to slow erosion. If we weren’t good stewards, there wouldn’t be anything left for my grandson.”
Dave is used to thinking about new generations. For 28 years, he was a high school business teacher, then vocational agriculture teacher and FFA leader. Now 68, he spent his younger days rising at 3 a.m. to milk cows and work the farm before heading off to his teaching job.
He thought the teaching would only be temporary—to help out the school district fill a sudden vacancy, then later to secure the agriculture program in danger of being cut for lack of an instructor. Turns out he was a natural. “I was starting to enjoy it,” Dave admits.
He is particularly proud of nearby Southridge High School’s FFA program, which had 15 members when he started teaching it and 160 when he retired in 2009.
Earlier this year, Dave Ring was recognized with the prestigious Master Farmer award from Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine. The nominees are considered for the honor based on the quality of their operation and community service. The awards were given this past spring at a banquet sponsored by the magazine and the Purdue Ag Alumni Association.
“The Rings have done a super job of being diversified,” says Kevin Lubbehusen of Blesch Bros. Equipment Co., Dave’s farm equipment dealer.
“You don’t often see someone of his age staying out front on the technology side,” says Kevin. “That ability to stay current, along with his years of experience and his reputation for being a straight shooter, make him someone people listen to.”
Thursday 17 October at London’s Soho Hotel sees the first screening of the brand-new children’s series ‘Little Grey Fergie’ featuring the adventures of a full-size, live-action Ferguson TE20 tractor.
Filmed on location at a Warwickshire farm, this new show is an English version of the popular Norwegian children’s story and TV series ‘Gråtass’. Over the last 15 years, the original story has grown like topsy with not only the TV series but two feature film hits, nine theatrical productions, several more books, DVDs and spin-off articles.
Aimed at pre-school kids, the new adventures of Little Grey Fergie are set on a farm near Coventry in England in the present day with English farm animals, settings and characters.
Production company, Farmyard Stories shot the series on a farm not far from Massey Ferguson’s UK Sales operations at Abbey Park Stoneleigh and only 20 km from the site of the original Coventry factory where the TE20s were built between 1946 and 1956.
A new star for the series is a shiny red, ultra-modern MF 7600 which adds 21st century tractor power to the narrative. Creator of the programmes, Morten Mycklebust is very excited about the launch of the new series. “Massey Ferguson is one of the world’s most recognised brands,” he remarks. “We’re really pleased that our films are giving a completely new generation of youngsters the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the brand and its history.”
“We fully support the development of the Little Grey Fergie character,” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Brand Development Manager. “The stories are captivating and we’re sure kids and their families will love him.”
The films have no dialogue – the tales are told through action, sound effects and music – so they will be understood all over the world. You can watch the first adventure at www.littlegreyfergie.com from 18 October.
AGCO announced their sponsorship of the 23rd annual International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) World Forum and Symposium. The conference takes place in Atlanta, GA June 18-20 with a mission to develop and sustain talent across the diverse value chain of global food production – from smallholder farmers in emerging regions of the world to the sophisticated commercial agricultural practices in mature economies. “It is a natural fit for AGCO to sponsor this organization and we are very happy to support young people who have chosen to pursue a career in agriculture,” said Martin Richenhagen, Chairman, President and CEO of AGCO. “Education is key to the advancement of the agricultural industry and key to the advancement of global economies.”
The Earth’s population is set to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. However, the number of young adults going into the agriculture industry is quickly declining. Global farm productivity has to change in order to keep up with growing needs for food, fuel and fiber and the industry needs the best and brightest minds in order to keep up with demand.
Eric Raby, Vice President, Global Marketing & Commercial Development will be a guest speaker at the event on June 20. In his speech, he will outline how Africa can play a decisive role in transforming global agriculture as well as what AGCO is learning from working in emerging markets. “AGCO knows the importance of attracting high quality talent to the ag industry because they will set the stage to feed, clothe and fuel the world for generations to come,” said Raby. “Even with today’s economy, people have not and will not stop eating; therefore, agriculture leads the way in career opportunities for the graduates of today and tomorrow.”
The International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) is a nonprofit organization that unites industry, students, academics, government leaders and other key stakeholders across the value chain of food production and consumption – to improve the global food and agribusiness system in response to the changing needs of the world. Founded in 1990 IFAMA fosters information sharing, knowledge advancement, discussion, debate, networking and career development through members across more than 50 countries. The annual IFAMA World Forum and Symposium is the organization’s cornerstone event, where leading experts address the most current and pressing issues in food and agriculture. Visit www.ifama.org to learn more.
A New Generation of farmers is transforming the way the world is farmed and is demanding the most appropriate tractors, harvesters and equipment.
That was the message from Thierry Lhotte, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Massey Ferguson EAME at the “For a New Generation from Massey Ferguson” SIMA Press Conference this week.
Mr Lhotte referred to a New Generation of young people who are choosing farming as a career because of its bright future.
“Their youthful enthusiasm, energy and optimism is combined with a growing demand for food and fuel across the world. They are open-minded and ready to embrace the opportunities that come their way. For them change is ‘business as normal.’ Compare this to more established businesses for whom ‘business as usual’ means a steady decline.”
He said that no country across the world is immune from generational change and that in Europe it is countries in Eastern Europe that are at the forefront of change. Others such as France and Germany are catching up and that the most dramatic changes are set to take place in countries such as Portugal, Italy and the UK, which currently have the eldest farmers.
“But it is important to stress that the New Generation of change is not just about age, the key thing is attitude. Without the right attitude, no farmer, whether they are 25 years-old, 45 years-old or 65 years-old, will succeed. And the New Generation of younger farmers are reliant on and benefit from the experience and guidance of their predecessors”
Mr Lhotte said that a New Generation of farmers is responding to the changing demands of consumers who want safe, reliable and affordable sources of food and energy as well high quality products that link them to farmers.
“In the past the farm stopped at the farm gate – no longer. Across the world younger farmers are taking over family farms and revolutionising the way they are operated. Countries such as Brazil and China and those in Africa are at the forefront of this change and European farmers have to respond to this challenge, particularly as most of the growing markets are outside Europe.”
A New Generation of farmers provides exciting opportunities for Massey Ferguson, a global machinery brand that continues to deliver a New Generation of straightforward innovation and dependability. Mr Lhotte highlighted the new MF 6600 Series tractors, launched at SIMA, which complete the ‘Super Six’ Range of most advanced Massey Ferguson tractors ever“Like the other ‘600’ ranges, the MF 6600 Series has been designed to meet the needs of the New Generation of farmer who is demanding a smart, efficient, clean and reliable tractor to increase output and preserve resources such as the soil and environment.
“The New Generation of farmers are looking to adopt the next generation of machines as soon as they can and want to influence their development. This is particularly exciting for us at Massey Ferguson as we have always taken the lead in developing the appropriate solutions farmers need. That is why we continue to invest in research and development, in young people and understanding the needs of both the New Generation of farmers and the Next Generation of farmers.”